Cholinergic pesticides cause mushroom body neuronal inactivation in honeybees

Mary J Palmer, Christopher Moffat, Nastja Saranzewa, Jenni Harvey, Geraldine A Wright, Christopher N Connolly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    128 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Pesticides that target cholinergic neurotransmission are highly effective, but their use has been implicated in insect pollinator population decline. Honeybees are exposed to two widely used classes of cholinergic pesticide: neonicotinoids (nicotinic receptor agonists) and organophosphate miticides (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors). Although sublethal levels of neonicotinoids are known to disrupt honeybee learning and behaviour, the neurophysiological basis of these effects has not been shown. Here, using recordings from mushroom body Kenyon cells in acutely isolated honeybee brain, we show that the neonicotinoids imidacloprid and clothianidin, and the organophosphate miticide coumaphos oxon, cause a depolarization-block of neuronal firing and inhibit nicotinic responses. These effects are observed at concentrations that are encountered by foraging honeybees and within the hive, and are additive with combined application. Our findings demonstrate a neuronal mechanism that may account for the cognitive impairments caused by neonicotinoids, and predict that exposure to multiple pesticides that target cholinergic signalling will cause enhanced toxicity to pollinators. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1634
    JournalNature Communications
    Volume4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2013

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Cholinergic pesticides cause mushroom body neuronal inactivation in honeybees'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Press / Media

    Pesticide combination affects bees' ability to learn

    Christopher N. Connolly

    27/03/13

    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Research

    Cite this